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SC unemployment rate falls slightly from May as 9,000 return to work

South Carolina's unemployment rate for the month of June dropped one tenth of a point to 4.5%...
South Carolina's unemployment rate for the month of June dropped one tenth of a point to 4.5% from May, South Carolina employment officials said Friday.(Live 5/File)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 10:51 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 16, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - State employment officials say South Carolina’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for June fell one tenth of a point from May.

The Department of Employment and Workforce reported the June unemployment rate as 4.5%, down from May’s 4.6%.

Seasonal adjustment removes the effects of events that follow a more or less regular pattern, such as tourist-related hiring and school closings over the summer.

SCDEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey said the growth in employment continues to demonstrate the state’s recovery and progress.

“While unemployed individuals dropped by more than 3,400, what is particularly exciting is that the number of people working increased by more than 12,200,” Ellzey said. “That is nearly 9,000 people returning to the workforce from the sidelines. And now more than ever, the state’s businesses need the experience and willingness of South Carolinians to jump into open jobs.”

Data released by SCDEW Friday morning, based on a monthly survey of households, estimated the number of South Carolinians working increased “significantly” to 2.2 million, an increase of 12,209 over the May 2021 estimate and an increase of 80,654 over the June 2020 estimate.

Unemployment data released Friday states the number of people unemployed in the state dropped 3,402 since May to a total of 107,035.

“South Carolina employers also need to think creatively about how to incentivize and foster the state’s workers. This is the time to brainstorm automation opportunities, benefits packages, career pathways, and cross-training of skills and expertise,” Ellzey said.

The news comes a day after the agency said the number of first-time unemployment claims it received during the week ending Saturday rose slightly for the fourth straight week. Last week’s total of 2,490 claims also represented the second consecutive week that the first-time unemployment claims exceeded the 2,000 mark.

The State Department of Employment and Workforce says the upward trend of first-time filers is nothing to worry about.

“You need to remember there are some lag weeks. We are coming off the Fourth of July holiday and a lot of manufacturers for example will close the plant down for a week or two around the holiday,” SCDEW’s Brian Nottingham said. “So there can be a lot of reasons. A lot of temporary layoffs that are sort of cyclical. This is something that happens every year, COVID or not COVID. It’s the same thing around Christmas time.”

Prior to that four-week run, the state had been on a seven-week trend of declining new claims.

Gov. Henry McMaster ordered SCDEW to end the payout of federal benefits at the end of June, a move designed to address the state’s labor shortage and get more workers back on the job.

The national unemployment increased from 5.8% in May to 5.9% in June.

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